japan-care

Tending a vision

This was the moment when I first realised that the otherness of Japanese gardens has something to do with the way they are tended. 

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japan-pavement-gardens

Pavement-gardens

The crammed grid of houses in the middle of Kyoto left no space for gardens. But there were plants – in pots. They stood in front of nearly every house, usually in groups by the front door. Some houses were almost surrounded by a collection of containers, all tightly packed with plants.

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my own garden

Wildflower-Meadow-Magic

My garden had always felt magical, from the moment I first saw it in the company of the estate agent. But on those warm nights in high summer, with the added intrigue of the unexpectedly tall meadow, my garden seemed otherworldly.

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High Beeches

High Beeches is different

There are no prescribed routes to follow, no obviously engineered views. The remarkably sparse planting opens a multitude of angles. Walking through the garden presents ever changing compositions of shapes, textures, colours. Every visitor is invited to find their own perspective.

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Could gardens be testing sites for rethinking our relationship with nature and with each other?

Thomas

Thomas and his houseplants

“Houseplants are bought for aesthetic reasons, but then plastic flowers could have replaced them long ago,” reflects Thomas, “So there must be some reason why we think a real flower is more positive than a plastic flower.”

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Ryoan-ji

Early morning at Ryoan-ji

It is very quiet. Nothing moves. The precision of this highly fragile arrangement is breathtaking. It is the expression of a simple idea full of infinite variation. This is the most famous Zen garden in the world – Ryoan-ji.

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wildflower-meadow-making

Attempting to create diversity

I decided this grass mono-culture was where I would try to make a difference as a gardener. If I managed to diversify the planting in this area, it would create more beauty for my own enjoyment as well as more diverse habitats for wildlife. That would be the perfect balance of my needs and those of the ecosystem that was my garden.

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Tom Hoblyn garden 2021 chelsea

The garden as a sanctuary

My grandmother’s joy was most apparent the moment she returned to the house. She proudly filled vases with flowers and prepared delicious meals from the fruit and vegetables she had grown. The garden was my grandmother’s domain, her sanctuary, and the source of her self confidence.

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Sibylles Garden

Sibylle’s stylish oasis

Sibylle’s garden could easily fill the cover of an upmarket style magazine. She has created the most luxurious, harmoniously balanced scene. There are a few flowers here and there, but green is the predominant colour. From the lower perennials to the climbers and not least the leaves of the Gleditsia, all foliage looks like it has been meticulously painted with a very fine brush.

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japan

Travelling to the gardens of Japan

I had been fascinated – and mystified – by Japanese gardens for as long as I could remember. Seeing them in person was going to be so exciting, but would I be able to comprehend them? My interest in the history of European gardens had taught me that cultural context was essential to their understanding. Japanese culture being so very different from European, I tried to acquire as much knowledge about it as possible prior to your trip.

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a meadow in the city

How I found my own garden

In front of me was a meadow, maybe 200 square metres in size, with some ferns at the edges and two fruit trees in the middle. The meadow was surrounded by old brick walls, partly covered with ivy, and beyond them the trees of neighbouring gardens. The sun was shining, the air was full of birdsong, it was a paradise!

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the magnolia

The magnolia

For the past seven years the magnolia has been our borrowed landscape, a generous gift from its previous owner to the whole neighbourhood. I try not to think about its absence. After a long winter every green shoot seems like a miracle, but a whole tree covered in hundreds, maybe thousands, of large-petalled flowers is the boldest statement of renewal.

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David-Caroline-Winter

A garden in a hundred pots

David and Caroline’s small outdoor space does not limit their passion for plants. On the contrary, it seems to fuel their endless curiosity and patient observation of every detail of every plant.

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Great Dixter exotic garden

An Afternoon in the Tropics

Within this spartan simplicity, cultivated with meticulous care, I feel as if I am in a Japanese temple, pleasantly sheltered, meditative. The perfect place to contemplate the beauty of nature.

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Anthonys-and-mine

Building a framework

My Englishman’s garden, and mine [part 1] – The result was spectacular. The garden’s design was suddenly of a piece. The finely-textured wood resonated with the materials used inside the house. The garden’s clean-cut lines made it feel uncluttered and luxuriously spacious. Finally we could start to plant.

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seeds of lockdown

Lockdown seeds

What exactly was happening during the first lockdown? People had started gardening. They were also rushing into the parks. But why? Was it just boredom?

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